VOTE 2012

Mitt Romney $10,000 bet fallout features criticism from both sides

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Aides said he was joking. Romney hasn't held a job in recent years — instead, he's campaigned for other Republicans and built his own presidential campaign.

Romney has faced widespread criticism after his $10,000 bet proposal on Saturday night. (Photo: Associated Press)

And at the Iowa State Fair in August, Romney stood on bales of hay and shouted down a questioner who accused him of favoring corporations over average Americans who rely on programs like Social Security.

"Corporations are people, my friend!" Romney shouted back.

But Romney has also made stories about his father's Spartan upbringing a central part of his usual campaign speech as he has worked to connect with voters struggling in a bad economy. George Romney grew up poor and went on to become governor of Michigan. On the campaign trail, Romney likes to tell stories about how his father paid for his honeymoon as he went along, selling aluminum paint out of his car as the newlyweds drove.

In recent days, Romney has also started to point to his time working as a Mormon missionary in France to make the point that he can relate with those who have less. He mentioned it in Saturday's debate and talked at length about it here Sunday.

Romney said he lived on between $500 and $600 per month.

"I lived with people in France who lived very modestly," he said, answering a question from an audience member who wanted Romney to talk about an experience that helped shape his life.

Some of the luxuries Romney was accustomed to at home were missing. "A number of the apartments I lived in when I was there didn't have toilets, we had instead, the little pads on the ground," he said, to laughter. "There was a chain behind you with kind of a bucket, a bucket affair — I had not experienced one of those in the United States."

The experience, he said, made him appreciate the U.S.

"I lived in a way that people of lower middle income in France lived," Romney said, "and I said to myself: 'Wow, I sure am lucky to be born in the United States of America.'"

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